Broody Momma has diligently brought forth our first Bungalow raised bantam ... this sweet little chick is either a black or splash bantam silkie ... For now he's sheltering under his momma's wing and we'll get a better look when she's ready for introductions.
On Sunday we got a response to our Craigslist ad listing four free Bantam Silkie Roosters.
When we ordered 15 straight run silkies last spring we ended up with a less than balanced mix of birds. Last autumn, four roosters made it into the freezers of some of our Chinese American friends who were willing to pay $10/pound for the bird that is somewhat of a Chinese delicacy.
Having recouped (re-cooped!) some of our initial investment, we switched the remaining flock from their pricey organic feed to a generic layer feed. Thirteen birds spent a cozy winter in the cute coop Mr Johnson & Co. created last summer. The extra birds helped generate the heat needed during the long cold winter ... But now, with spring finally here, the hens are less appreciative of the males in their ranks.
The interested party was enamoured by the crow of the rooster. She was looking for a pet and was willing to take two Roos ... She also convinced us to sell a hen after she saw the adorable little toupe colored eggs the silkies lay. (The fact that she met Broody Momma and her three little peeps that shelter under her wings helped too!)
Thinking back, "Chickenless Me" a year ago, would have been as easily charmed.
When she arrived Easter evening, with her husband and mother, she was met in the driveway by our youngest girls and a rabbit.
The chickens in the coop met us at the door. Two tiny bantam eggs had been gift dropped in the nest box. She asked if she could take pictures of the coop. She held the rabbit. Her madre reached into her bosom for her mobile phone and started snapping pictures too. Bei Bei called each chicken by name as she helped load "Soup Pot", "Kevin" and the hen named "Picky" into their carrier.
Our enamoured friend switched to Spanish and cajoled her husband to take note of the coop features and even the rain barrel.
I smiled a knowing smile, and Mr Johnson smirked too.
"You guys are us a year ago," I told them.
They left with three chickens in a dog carrier, two still-warm eggs, a ziplock full of feed and some fresh pine shavings.
On Monday morning Mr Johnson mused about how their night might have gone ... but what he was really thinking he left unsaid ::
That husband was a saint.
(My husband knows from experience!)
Yesterday Mr J and I installed three new hives @ our country bee yard. Our friends have been so generous to let us use a corner of their property!
We've got high hopes for our newest sets of pollinators!
We start each new hive with a package of new bees. We decided to get Italian honeybees again this year ... They are a docile bee and easy to work. The bees we buy have been packaged after completing almond pollination in California. Each 3# package includes a lab raised queen. Her Royal Highness is paired with the bees in California and kept separate in a small cage so they will have time to get to know her. After transit time together they usually accept her.
So yesterday I removed the cork in the bottom of her little cage and replaced it with a mini marshmallow ... The worker bees who care for the queen will eat through the marshmallow to release her ... The others will work on building comb (a brand new hive has ten empty frames) and she will start laying in the cells they create. This year we were able to add several frames with built out wax/comb from our other hives which will give them a head start and should add a little extra insulation on these chillier nights.
The bees come in a three pound package with screened sides and include a can of sugar water to feed them in transit. The queen cage hangs from the metal tab. She is not visible because the bees have clustered around her.
To install the bees:: we remove the can and the little queen cage and then dump the bees into the brood box (having previously removed about half of the frames). We carefully replace the frames around the bees (there are about 12,000 bees in three pounds), install the queen cage, and close them up.
We will feed the new hives 1:1 sugar water using the 1/2 gallon inverted pails until there's a good/steady pollen source.
We will check on Sat to see if the queens have been released ...
And accepted ...
And hopefully laying new brood!